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Messages - Bill James

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1
Hangar Flying / The Elder VariEze?
« on: September 18, 2017, 01:24:46 PM »
Where is the Elder VariEze? Who is flying the longest currently flying VariEze? Is Ken Swain in the running?

2
Hangar Flying / Re: Vari-eze Wing Template Drawings
« on: March 01, 2017, 03:06:58 PM »
Just wondering Tom, are you doing a VEze?
Bill

3
Hangar Flying / Re: Been Flying Lately?
« on: March 05, 2016, 07:06:57 AM »
Sounds like a really good day Fred   :)

4
Hangar Flying / Been Flying Lately?
« on: March 03, 2016, 06:42:44 PM »
Been Flying Lately?
The sun was three fingers above the horizon. It was going to be close.
Walking in to work yesterday morning my fighter pilot buddy said his usual greeting, “Been flying lately?” And for the rest of the day the urge to slip the surly bonds had been buzzing around my head like a persistent horse fly. There was no getting rid of it until now, heading home. My trusty ’97 Mustang had its head and was topping the mild Texas rises a little brisker than usual. The wind was buffeting the rag top and portended a sporty flight. I was thinking, “Count me in.”
When the engine started the sun was two fingers above the horizon. Time was flying and i needed to be. I didn’t look at the clock anymore, we were going.
Taxiing out, ‘brisk’ was still the operative word. The windsock was busy but almost right down the runway. The takeoff and quick climb was non-Hertzler-esque using significantly more than 4 gph, as was the entire flight. It was about eleven minutes to the lake and 4.5K was good.  It was somewhat unusual to be holding the canard down in a climb. It was also unusual on a sunset run to hold a heading very long where the sun was right over the instrument panel, with the reflection off the nose making for a brilliant double glow. Bad news. Blinding. But wrapped in the rippling willing steed around me, escorted by two proud winglets, it was glorious. Instead of being blinded, maybe you can see further…
The turbulence was a bit intimidating over the ridge lines secluding our little lake cabin, so I coasted almost power-off across the ridge and through a couple of turns around the place. One time I was sitting in the back yard there and counted a trail of over a hundred vultures pass almost effortlessly overhead. At that time I humorously wondered where the heck they were going, as if they had somewhere to be, like an important meeting maybe? Now I was soaring with them, a little higher… they are beautiful in the air… spectacular. Now I know, I know where they were going – they were flying the sunset!
Another turn around the place. I widened the turn a little and followed the creek as it twisted and turned going seven miles length in three miles span. Great for jet skis. Below, the water was high but our floating dock was still in place. All good. Mission complete. I turned to follow the ridge lines and four cove fingers around the lake to the dam. I floated past the cap rock along the ridge lines that was once the ocean floor. I made a turn and took in the entire valley that had been washed out after a meteor hit down in Mexico, some centuries ago I hear. That’s why there are rocks the size of cars that had tumbled down to our yard from the ridge above, also eons ago, thank goodness.
I coasted through the turbulence over the ridges and over the dam, gliding some, and working some, coasting down to see our creek tumble into the Brazos River, finally pulling away from the allure and vista of the Texas Hill Country. 
Oh yeah. The sun! One finger above the horizon. Not good. Still plenty of avgas so forward on the throttle and climbing fast with a little forward pressure on the stick. Let’s get cooking. Crossing over the thick string of headlights on I-20 west I humorously wondered where they were all going. The horizon opened up ahead and the lights of Fort Worth and Dallas sprinkled alive. I remembered the night years ago, I was flying a friend’s Long EZ just past sunset and the space shuttle trailed a brilliant golden contrail across the sky streaking toward Florida. They probably got there and landed before I landed.
I was flying over just about the same spot as that night. Again, a tinge of heightened awareness of the life of flying these planes crept up on me and i got chills up my sides and arms and up my neck into my hair. I watched the airport approaching and struggled through the pattern entry and the landing, not struggling like struggling, but struggling to grasp and hold every moment, to see and hold on, hold on to the feel, the feel of the wings that seemed to hold on to every molecule of lift, holding on…

This morning my fighter pilot buddy had his routine greeting, “Hey, been flying lately?”
I said, “…Yes.”

5
Hangar Flying / Re: Long EZ Retracting step
« on: November 10, 2015, 04:37:06 PM »
     A few of my notes when installing mine:
     Make the sliding step as long as practical but no more than needed.
     Mine is mounted on the aft side of the lower instrument panel bulkhead. You can use two metal tubes with the outer tube attached to the bulkhead. I think there is also a lot to be said for two tubes.
     Instead I used an angle steel bar for the sliding step, cut down to 1 inch x 1/4 inch by about 13 in. I started to use a full length fixed metal brace/support above and below the steel slider but ended up having a 6 inch hard point (wood and glass) against the left sidewall and floor bolted to the inst panel bulkhead (with liberal flox and BID glass attachment to spread the stress further out on the bulkhead and floor). This supports the weight. For the middle brace (bracing down) there is a 6 inch aluminum angle brace bolted to the middle of the lower instrument panel bulkhead.
     The sliding step is long enough to allow for a 5 inch step when extended, with the right end extending a little past where it meets against the middle 6 inch alum top brace.
     It works. Get started, the details will come to you.
     Bet you are already finished.  :)

6
Hangar Flying / Re: More Fun
« on: November 02, 2015, 09:16:29 AM »

7
Hangar Flying / More Fun
« on: October 31, 2015, 07:59:17 PM »
At the Fort Worth SETP/SFTE Symposium (Society of Experimental Test Pilots/ Society of Flight Test Engineers) I asked the president of the local chapter if it was unusual to have professional military, corporate, or civilian test pilots at the symposium give a presentation on testing their own personal experimental aircraft; as the one that had just ended. In a nutshell, he said “No.”
So it’s not surprising that as the break was ending I overheard the following joust (the way I remember it):
Test Pilot 1. “So what you need in your cockpit for better data collection is the (fantastic gizmo). It’s the latest most high tech device on the market. Don’t you agree?”
Test Pilot 2. “I disagree a thousand percent. It does too much. I just need my five data points but in the format that fits what we’re doing.”
Test Pilot 1. “But you said you wanted more data…”
Test Pilot 2. “No. What I want is to have fun!”

8
Hangar Flying / VariEzes at Rough River 2015
« on: September 29, 2015, 09:44:53 PM »
There are lots of great pictures from the Rough River weekend. I like Ron Springer with his faithful black lab partner in the back seat saddling up for home.
Plenty of great airplanes there. One shot of the shark fin feeding frenzy has eight of the nine VariEzes center stage lined out on the ramp; a picture surrounded by a thousand words, times ten. ☺
Then there’s my Panavision Technicolor video of the RR area with the StaggerEze panel pizazz in the foreground. There is never enough time or attention span as you want when an owner is willing to talk about their plane.
Thanks Nick Ugolini and Terry Schubert for hosting again and for my specially engraved Rough River knife door prize. Everyone needs the Rutan Aircraft Flying Museum update and T-shirt from Ryszard Zadow. And it’s a treat to get within earshot of Robert and Valerie Harris to hear them providing educated fixes for almost anything, and to maybe get a wisp of what they might be up to in their shop. As always those that had the chance to visit with other canard folks at Rough River this year were glad for the experience. Oh, was Dave Adams there?  ☺  With all the rides he gave I wouldn’t be surprised if his flight time there was higher than his ground time there.
I filled another page in my notebook with details on the nav technology octopus, watching what others are doing versus my rudimentary system of the GPS pointer and the altimeter. Whether we carry our technology in our front shirt pocket or in three bags, I would hope to never have to try to find RR without the GPS. Ah yes, I have done it; but those were the good old days.
I am enjoying replaying the images in my mind from the fly in but I may shoot Shane Banquer for that little ditty he sang in the van that keeps replaying in my head and won’t go away, “…And the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round,...” Three days later and the tune is still going, round and round…
The heart of the weekend for me was the flight there. The marvel of again sitting there suspended solidly in that well worn seat lofting across state after state with a warm heart and a nod at every scan of the instruments, passing alongside brilliant bulging white clouds with a graceful ballet swoop from a little stick to the left and then a little stick the right, taking a longer moment off to ogle a lake or airport, taking another moment to adjust the posture a bit and watch the winglet; just watch it. At times if you hold your tongue just right the airframe structure seems to go grayscale with you propelling yourself across this special span of life powered only by the thrust of your passion. And i'm not talking just airplanes...
The trip home was significant in it’s own right, because it was with wingmen. Racing between clouds I wondered, what does the VariEze showing portend? What do builders of all types have under wraps out there, those that don’t choose to hear the naysayers or participate in the slowdown?
Time will tell.
…And the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round…

9
Hangar Flying / ELT?
« on: September 22, 2015, 11:42:41 AM »
With all the new technology does anyone have a favorite device? I also use the app Find Friends a lot.

10
Hangar Flying / "Beefing It Up"
« on: August 26, 2015, 10:58:04 PM »
"Sometimes an attempt to strengthen a structure will actually weaken it."
     Barnaby Wainfan, "Wind Tunnel," KITPLANES, Oct 2015, p 76.

11
Hangar Flying / Re: VariEze dimensions
« on: August 24, 2015, 06:40:24 PM »
Width and depth - two feet each. From canard bulkhead to firewall is about 8 ft 6 inches.
Good luck-

12
Hangar Flying / Re: Best Laid Plans
« on: August 04, 2015, 05:36:00 PM »
Hmmm…yep, no doubt. However that list of those ‘to be worried about’ is long and distinguished. And i don't claim top billing.
Oh, and the neighbors haven’t heard the sound system yet. It is a product of research during the recent engine rebuild where several other engine options were considered. A turbo two-stroke was a strong contender but the diminutive "Neeeeee" sound on a low pass was unpalatable. Thus a robust sound system was proposed with powerful and majestic recordings of low passes by Spitfires and Mustangs and such blasting out of massive speakers on the bottom, including impressive tracks for startup and taxi. Actually,
I love the sound of a Lycoming in the morning.

13
Hangar Flying / Best Laid Plans
« on: August 03, 2015, 08:37:53 PM »
Best Laid Plans
     Inspired by the goings-on at Oshkosh and my son’s upcoming elk hunting trip, the plan was to get rough field capability including tundra tires and a hydraulic lift kit. I liberated everything i needed from a guy with a 1963 Impala. Looking back on it now, I'm hoping he was actually the owner of the car.
     In homage to skis that propel you into the air, I figured that on takeoff with a little practice on the hydraulic control panel I could generate a rhythm that would eventuate into bouncing the plane a couple of feet into the air. Unfortunately the two large tires on the rear greatly outweigh the single smaller tire on the front creating an unforeseen CG issue causing a robust tendency to do a back flip. Another significant issue, I don’t have a trunk to load up all of the hydraulics. Those low-rider guys have it easy.
     To salvage the effort, I plan to roll through the Dairy Queen this weekend. Maybe I could try just one back flip. Anyone have an extra set of baby blue belly lights?
(Images attached, you have to be signed in)

14
Hangar Flying / Guns Guns Guns
« on: January 24, 2015, 02:51:12 PM »
Guns Guns Guns
     A friend and I were heading out the same direction. He was in his Stearman and I was in the VariEze. I slowed and pulled up about thirty yards to his right. We sat there a moment. He was known to be spontaneous. He barrel-rolled to the right and fell in behind me and called “GUNS-GUNS-GUNS!”
     I pushed the throttle forward and called, “SPEED-SPEED-SPEED!” and went on my merry way, unscathed I might add.
     That evening with friends he started boasting loudly that in our little skirmish he had gotten the best of me.
     I responded that he had not even so much as nicked me.
     He began walking my way with his chest out.  He said, “I rolled in right in behind you and called, “GUNS-GUNS-GUNS!” I got you, dead to rights.”
      “No,” I said, calmly of course, “no, when you said “GUNS-GUNS-GUNS,” I called, “SPEED-SPEED-SPEED!” I outran your bullets with my speed. Your bullets fell of their own weight, harmlessly.”
     He threw his arms up and spun around and ended up with his face a little closer to mine than before. He pointed his finger at my nose. “I got you with my GUNS,” he said.
     “Like I said before,” I said, “I… outran… your… bullets… with… my… speed.”
     His face was turning redder.
     “And,” I said, “my speed is only slightly imaginary….”
     This all came to mind again because we have another gathering coming up and I am going to suggest that we settle the issue with rock/paper/scissors.
     You pilots are such fun    :)
          Bill James
         

15
Hangar Flying / Scale model Long EZ
« on: December 24, 2014, 09:54:44 AM »
For you scale model guys, there is a Long EZ 1/48 plastic scale model by Sharkit on ebay

       Sharkit Models 1/48 RUTAN MODEL 61 LONG-EZ Canard Aircraft

With a little tweaking mine will soon be a VariEze with straight wings, sitting in the cabinet with a few other special 1/48 aircraft.
Merry Christmas and Happy Gas Prices
Bill

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